How do you budget for your Kilimanjaro climb so you don’t drain your bank account or max out your credit cards?
The average Kilimanjaro climb cost (from a reputable company) starts around $4,000 (not including airfare) and packages usually cover park fees, food, wages, gear, ground transport and medical equipment for you, your guides and your porters for at least 10 days.
Is that a lot of money to invest in a single adventure?
Not when you compare it to the great experience you’ll have reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit.
This priceless journey to Uhuru Peak is one you’ll never forget; a challenge you can boast about accomplishing to your grandchildren.
So to make sure your wallet isn’t holding you back from this or any adventure, we’ll be sharing a roundup of expert budgeting tips from top travel bloggers sure to help you afford to climb Kili.
How to Create a Budget for Your Kilimanjaro Climb Cost
How do you really know if you can afford a Kilimanjaro adventure? Even if you can pay for the cost today, would that affect your budget for the rest of the month or year? Will your family need to make sacrifices to account for that missing chunk of change?
As with most ventures in life, things tend to go a lot easier when you have a plan. So before we can answer these questions accurately, it’s time to think like your accountant.
Creating a budget that will allow more money for traveling is way less complicated than it sounds.
In fact, it only takes five steps:
1. Figure out your total cost to climb Kili
When you learn what’s included in your Kilimanjaro climb cost, you’ll know exactly why you don’t want to book with the cheapest trekking company you find. But in addition to your Mount Kilimanjaro climbing package, you’ll also need to pay for your airfare to get to Tanzania (more on this later). And if you don’t have cold weather gear and the best hiking boots, you’ll need to either buy or rent those, too.
All these expenses add up.
So literally, add them up and you’ll have an idea of what you’ll need to have saved to make your hike a reality. This will be your base travel budget.
2. Track your expenses for one month to see what you’re spending
Record everything you earn and everything you spend (think: rent, bills, haircuts, groceries, school tuition, gas for your car, electricity, etc.). If you don’t have the patience to do this with a pen and paper, an app like Mint will do it for you.
Most people don’t realize how much they’re actually spending each month and not saving. Your monthly expenses will show you how long it will take you — at your current pace — to save for your Kili climb.
Don’t have enough right now?
3. Create a savings plan by identifying your needs versus wants
You need feed, but you want that extra scoop of ice cream. How many times do you eat out for lunch instead of bringing a homemade sandwich to work? Do you have several online movie or TV subscriptions, or a crazy high cable or cell phone bill?
The essentials we can’t go without – such as a roof over our heads and food to eat – are needs. Wants are more like paying extra to have the latest smartphone or top-tier gym membership.
These can all be nixed in favor of seeing the world, whether short or long term.
When you minimize the costs of your current wants and needs, you can direct all that extra income to your travel jar. Your new and only want will be traveling.
4. Set short and long-term savings goals
Short-term goals include skipping your fancy coffee every day for a week (to save nearly $20); long-term would be continuing that habit for an entire year (to bank over $1,000!).
Work at stacking cash to reach your overall trip cost (and maybe a bit extra for padding and souvenirs).
5. Stick to the budget
Whether you plan to cut back spending or want to work a bit more, you need to stay focused and keep your eye on making them happen. Take a look at your financials at the end of each month to make sure you’re on track. If you need to make adjustments, do so before the start of the following month.
Nadine Sykora from Hey Nadine thinks everyone can afford to travel as long as they learn how to budget. Click here to grab her two free downloadable forms – a Monthly Expenses Sheet and a Monthly Travel Budget – so you can plan your Kilimanjaro climb (and maybe even a post-hike safari) like a pro.
If You Can’t Earn More Where You Are, Pick Up a Side Hustle
Matthew Karsten, travel blogger and photographer at the helm of The Expert Vagabond, encourages thinking outside the box to earn extra cash for your travel budget:
6. Ask for a raise
As one of the riskiest moves on the list, Karsten says it’s worth it “as long as you can prove you actually deserve it.” But even if you’re politely turned down, you can always try asking to work shorter hours or work from home a few days a week in order to pick up a side job.
7. Find your side hustle or work a part-time job
Have a few hours to work part-time at night or on the weekends? Can you earn money online via affiliate marketing or by becoming a virtual assistant? Can you sell handmade items on Etsy or second-hand finds on eBay?
Try it! You might discover a new passion and make some money doing it.
8. Stop going out and start cooking more at home
Is it worth spending money on the same takeout every week or would you rather save your money for delicious adventure cuisine on the Kilimanjaro trail?
We know how we’d answer this.
9. Use the internet to comparison shop
Are you sure you’re paying the lowest prices for your everyday staples? Just plug your products into a Google shopping search to see if you could be scoring them cheaper elsewhere.
10. Reduce your electricity bill (and save the planet)
Resist the urge to turn your thermostat up high in the winter and way low in the summer, take shorter showers, turn off TVs and lights left on, and you’ll slash your utility bill and become a greener citizen all in one.
11. Finally sell your junk
We all have valuable items hiding in our closets, garages, and basements that need new homes. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to offer up your treasures for travel cash. Start with Craigslist, and then look for Facebook groups that may have online garage sales in your neighborhood.
12. Become a pet or house-sitter in your area
It’s easy – and fun – to watch your neighbor’s house or pet while they’re on vacation and you’ll be earning cash to pay for your Kilimanjaro adventure, too.
You can use several apps to connect to local pet-owners in your neighborhood. Then, check out this step-by-step guide to house-sitting.
The Secret to an Affordable Kilimanjaro Adventure? Cheap Airfare
After your Kilimanjaro climb cost, airfare is usually the next main expense.
Nomadic Matt, travel blogger and New York Times bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, has a 13-point guide for booking cheap flights based on all the thousands of flights he’s flown.
We’ll break down some of his best chunks of wisdom now:
13. You can get free flights (if you’re smart)
Sign up for a travel credit card rewarding you for purchases with airline miles. Most companies will offer you an initial sign-up bonus worth at least 25,000–50,000 miles or points, which could easily cover the cost of your flight to Tanzania – or at least part of it.
Then, start using your credit card for everything (just make sure to pay off your balance each month before you’re charged interest). Many travel and airline-branded credit cards partner with specific stores to help you earn more when you buy there (like 3 points for every dollar you spend at that store instead of 1 elsewhere).
This will help you earn points for purchases you’re already making. Now all the expenses you identified in step #2 can become points/miles you can use to pay for your airfare!
14. Sign up for airline mailing lists and join Facebook groups
You may be treated with special sales, deals, travel alerts, and promotional airfare discounts the rest of the population misses out on.
15. Subscribe for “mistake fares”
According to travel TV host and blogger La Carmina, “You can narrow down your preferences to flights departing from certain countries, and they’ll send you an email when a deal pops up. Thanks to these email alerts, I got my mother a $480 round-trip ticket from Vancouver to Hong Kong!”
16. Know that not all search engines are the same
Sites and apps like Momondo, Google Flights, and Skyscanner will all let you watch flights and alert you when fares are the lowest. This ensures that you never book when prices are their highest.
17. Check one-way tickets both ways before booking round-trip tickets
As Tausha Cowan of the The Globe Getter blog says, sometimes it’s actually cheaper to buy two one-way tickets than a single round-trip one.
Partner with Tusker Trails to Get the Most Value for Your Kilimanjaro Climb Cost
Just like you’ll need to train your body for Kilimanjaro, you may need to train your spending and saving habits to make the journey, too. The best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is when you can go with the peace of mind that your finances will be okay when you get back.
One of the biggest mistakes people make on Kilimanjaro is choosing the wrong hiking company due to their budget. So research all your options and learn how to tell if your Kilimanjaro climb cost is worth the price before booking anything. And if you’re ready, find out what makes a Kili climb different with Tusker now!